Sunday, 10 June 2012

To Sir With Love

In today's NZ Herald, Rodney Hide has written an opinion piece called "Time for PM to revoke Sir Douglas' knighthood"
Despite usually being wrong and generally only half thought out, Rodney Hide's opinion pieces are generally worth a read through because they are thought-provoking.  Also, given the ongoing sideshow that is the ACT party, I wondered initially whether he was referring to Roger Douglas.  Turns out I wasn't the only one, in the comments "Andrew Johnson" suggests the same thing.  Turns out he wasn't suggesting this at all, though in my opinion such action would be deserved.
This bit here turns up fairly early on in the piece:
The Prime Minister made a good call returning titled honours to New Zealand. I understand Sir and Dame. The letters PCNZM and DCNZM mean nothing to me.
I understand that the principle difference is the use of the honorific "Sir" or "Dame".  We have always recognised achievement, and the changes over the previous twenty years or so have included who awards the honour and whether a title is or is not granted.  Whatever else happens, people get to add a whole lot of fairly meaningless (to people who are unfamiliar with them) letters after their name.

The knight that Rodney Hide suggests is stripped of his knighthood is Douglas Graham, who as a director of Lombard Finance was convicted of breaching the Securities Act by making untrue statements, under the strict liability provisions of the Act.  I can not condone his actions.

For me this is tricky territory.  The use of honorifics such as Sir, Dame, Lady, Lord etc. is hopelessly outdated and cringe-inducing.  So while I support the process of formally recognising our great achievers, I'd like to see the whole honours system updated.

Once an honour is bestowed upon someone, there must be an excellent and compelling reason to revoke it.  Douglas Graham received his KNZM for services as a Minister of the Crown and as a Member of Parliament.  His work as Treaty Negotiations was, to the best of my knowledge, difficult and done well.  His actions that brought about his conviction under the Securities Act are completely independent of his work as a Minister and MP.  If, hypothetically, his KNZM was awarded for services to business, then there might be grounds to consider stripping him of it.

Lulu - To Sir With Love 7", 1967
Tina Arena - Songs of Love and Loss, 2007

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